The Winter Soldier

While the rest of the world seems to be dashing off to Christmas (insert rant about not being able to find good Thanksgiving decorations in November), I thought I’d take today to look back on Halloween.

Mostly because this folder of costume photos has been kicking around and I need to make a post about it.

Also, because I didn’t get a chance to show off my robot arm closer to Halloween.

Those are the good shots. And here’s a terrible full body one taken for the costume contest at work:

Ta da! And I thought, since I have this blog and all, I’d show you folks how I put together my cheap Winter Soldier costume.

Most of this costume is stuff that is really easy to get or something you might already own:

– Black boots
– Black socks
– Black pants
– Black fingerless glove
– Silver glove
– Black button down shirt (that can be altered)
– Black Humvee combat vest 
– Winter Soldier arm leotard thing
– Sunglasses
– Face mask

The sunglasses were an Ocean State Job Lot find for $2.00.

The black fingerless gloves are just a cheap pair of gloves that can be picked up practically anywhere with the fingers cut off. Not even hemmed or anything. They were a part of another costume a few years ago and I think a work friend picked them up for me for $1.00. 

I already owned the silver gloves from an old costume; I just cut the left one down so that it wasn’t an elbow glove and hemmed the cuff. It’s not a neat cuff, but it’s hidden by the black fingerless glove. Silver gloves are pretty easy to find online if there’s no party store or costume shop nearby. A quick search shows them from $6.00 to $13.00.

The altered shirt is also really easy. I just cut off the left arm about an inch below the shoulder seam and hid my hemming stitches along the shoulder seam that was already there. I bought it at a thrift store for $4.00.

The Humvee combat vest was also a part of a costume a few years back, but my work friend found these at a surplus store for $25.00. It’s not as impressive as the Winter Soldier’s actual leather coat thing, but if you’re on a budget, it’s a good alternative.

The arm is really where all the work and money went. There are some really great tutorials online for Winter Solider arms and I did take some direction from them, but my arm is not as detailed as many of the ones I had seen previously. I think this is a good alternative if you’re not sure how far you want to get into making this arm. I could definitely add more detailing and paint to this to make it more realistic if I was intending to wear this to a convention later.

The first things I started with were a $4.00 long sleeved shirt from Ocean State Job Lot and a $40.00 silver leotard. White ones are cheaper, but I didn’t want to paint the whole arm for time reasons.

I used the $4.00 shirt to create an arm model for myself.



As you can see, it’s mostly masking tape and that shirt. There’s plenty of tutorials for making dummies of yourself online, so if you need some help with this part, there are lots of resources. I’d recommend having a friend help out with the arm dummy; I did it on my own and it was really hard to cut off the masking tape dummy up by the shoulder and neck.

I then put on my sweet, sweet leotard and stuck safety pins into key points on my arm: my wrist where my glove would reach, the inside of my elbow, the top of my shoulder, and approximately where the star might end up. I then dressed up my arm dummy and lined up all those points with the same points on the dummy.



I then drew out a diagram of the Winter Soldier’s arm in Adobe Photoshop and created a PDF that I could print out as a stencil. I’m going to make both the PDF and PSD available for free download at for anyone who wants to play around with it. I have it sized to my arm, but if you’re familiar with Photoshop, you can alter it to fit your own arm measurements. The stencil print out for me took 6 pages (printed poster style).



I cut the stencil in half around where the elbow would be and lined it up with my arm dummy to check the measurements. If the points on the dummy and the points on the paper are far off, you might have to rework your stencil.



I then started cutting out each panel and pinning it to the arm dummy. I left spaces where the gaps in the plates (the blue lines on the paper) would be and taped the paper together where the ends meet on the back of the arm. It’s not exact, but it worked well enough for me. Put larger gaps where your arm will naturally bend.

And then I continued in the same way up the rest of the arm. The star is shown there, but I ignored the edges of the star in the next step. I left it there for the plates that go through the star. Once the whole thing is pinned together, I used fabric paint to paint the lines where the plates gap.



I did the first coat in a silvery fabric paint. I didn’t know how it would turn out, so if I really screwed up I could repaint the whole arm. I took it slow painting one side of the arm, letting it dry for half a day, and then painting the other side of the arm. Try to keep your hand steady as much as possible and don’t worry if it looks weird at this step. Just try to keep the line in the middle of the space between the paper pieces.



Once all the silver paint was dry, I took off all the paper pieces. The paint is different enough from the leotard that the lines were clear to follow. I then took a smaller brush and did a thing line of black fabric paint in the center of my silver lines. Again, first one side of the arm, waiting half a day for it to dry, and then the other side of the arm.



Once everything was dry, I printed out another copy of the arm star for a stencil and put on my fancy pants leotard with arm lines on it. I lined up where the star should go in the mirror and pinned the star in the right place with a couple of safety pins. I stuck the arm back onto the dummy and traced a star in red fabric paint. Once that was dry, I removed the star and painted in the rest of the red for the star. I goofed on my paint choice, so my Winter Soldier arm has some sparkles in the star, but it didn’t end up being all the visible against the leotard. I only painted the one coat of the red, so the coverage is slightly uneven. That was fine for me. It looks more like an inlay with very definite border lines in the movie, but I like the look of the star being painted on rather than built in.



And that’s the arm!

And the face mask ended up being the cheapest part of this costume. I bought a pack of 10 dust masks from the dollar store, chopped them up, taped them together, and painted them black. I only ended up using 3 masks. Here’s a series of photos of me putting them together and adjusting them to my face:

And that’s how I put together my Halloween Winter Soldier costume. 



Also, that’s a record for the number of photos taken of me within one month. I felt absurd taking that many photos of myself. I’m not a fan of how I look in static images (or, you know, how I look in general). I’m a bit better about video due to YouTube video stint that lasted a few years before I drifted away from it, but I’ve always had a hard time with photos. It’s easier for me when I’m in costume, but even then it can be a bit much for me. I just don’t like my face.

But I find that I really like these photos of me with my face mostly covered. I mean, with the mask on, you’re missing out on the worst parts of my face, so my eyeballs and eyebrows look pretty good there. And my hair’s not too bad in the actual Halloween photos either. 

But it’s still weird to post photos of myself online when I’ve spent so long avoiding photos of myself. 



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